If all it takes to generate energy nowadays is a walk and a bit of sweat, it should come as no surprise that it’s also possible to create electricity out of thin air. Or, rather, air that is slightly humid.
[Biophysicist professor Ozgur Sahin’s] laboratory has developed one kind of ‘evaporation engine’, which works by using the movement of bacteria in response to changes in humidity.
Shutters either opened or closed to control moisture levels, prompting bacterial spores to expand or contract. This motion is then transferred to a generator and turned into electricity.
With technologies to convert wind, water, and heat into energy, it seems anything has the potential to do the same. As with anything in its early stages, researchers are treading carefully so as not to affect water resources. However, the machines may be a saving grace to drought-prone areas, as they reduce water loss.
“Some… regions suffer from periods of water stress and scarcity, which might favour implementation of these energy harvesting systems due to the reduction of evaporative losses.”
According to recent calculations, the technology could save 25 trillion gallons of water a year. It’s a godsend, considering how many people aren’t willing to give up hot, hourlong showers. It’s also a harsh reminder that we ought to do our part as consumers.
Wind energy is nothing new, but it’s definitely improving. In fact, it’s powering homes in Australia and Denmark at pleasantly surprising rates. Now that other nations are catching onto its sheer efficiency, they’re brewing up other ways to utilize it. For Moya Power in London, it’s all about being creative. The pilot project will collect energy from tunnel drafts caused by speeding trains using simple plastic sheets.
“If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it,” says [mastermind Charlotte] Slingsby… “I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise.”
Considering the constant movement of countryside families into cities, urban landscapes are demanding greater volumes of energy. As the war against fossil fuels continues to be precarious, alternative energy is very much welcome anywhere.
The yield is low compared to traditional wind power plants and is not able to power whole cities, but Slingsby sees Moya Power as just a single element in a mixture of urban energy sources.
Realizing that subway tunnels might be the windiest parts of an otherwise gloomy city now makes a lot of sense. Who knew?
If Microsoft can fly planes without motors, surely there is a lot in store for passenger aircrafts. The wait may soon be over, as European manufacturers are aiming to test-fly an electricity-powered plane in 2020.
Airbus is responsible for integrating the engines with flight controls. Rolls-Royce will develop the turbo-shaft engine, two megawatt generator and power electronics. Siemens will deliver the power distribution network.
With all the big guns taking part in developing E-Fan X, commercial flights in 2025 don’t seem too ambitious. Contributing 2% of carbon emissions worldwide, commercial planes could use a makeover. Aircraft giants EasyJet and Boeing are also in on the action, crafting up their own eco-jets.
“The E-Fan X is an important next step in our goal of making electric flight a reality in the foreseeable future,” said Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ Chief Technology Officer.
Looks like cutting on fossil fuels is a virus that has clearly infected aviation titans.